Fairies

Fairies. The word seems to conjure up images of little winged females, often dressed in leaves. This image was popularized by Shakespeare, the 16th century poet and playwright. Fairies, in their folkloristic image, are much more interesting. The world of fairies is surprisingly complex and difficult to comprehend, but, in general terms, fairies are nature spirits.

The term fairy comes from the Latin word, fata, meaning fate. There are many different names and different spellings for fairies as well; fay, fey, fae, sidhe (pronounced shee), and elf. Fairies are sometimes claimed that they are only a European phenomenon, but actually, they are worldwide. The best known fairies are mostly from Ireland and Scotland, which gave rise to that misconception.

The Celts believed that fairies were nature spirits which were connected to a specific place or element of the world, (such as earth, forests, fire). Like many folkloric beliefs, fairies were Christianized in the Middle Ages. During this time, they went from mischievous nature spirits to being fallen angels cast down from heaven. It is thought that many superstitions were born from stories of pranks fairies had played on unsuspecting humans. Fairies were, and still are, used by various pagan beliefs to perform magic and carry rituals.

There are many types of fairies from all around the world. Leprechauns are probably the best known, they are small shoemakers who are often suspected of having gold hidden. Pixies are tiny female creatures with butterfly wings, the common image of the fairy. Goblins and hobgoblins are known as dark fairies, meaning they operate at night, they are ugly, cruel and stupid creatures.

There are some who theorize that fairies may be connected with modern day encounters with UFOs and “extraterrestrials”. The idea was first born in the book Passage to Magonia by Jacques Vallee, a well known ufologist and computer scientist. There are three common arguments for their connection. First, descriptions of fairies and aliens are very similar in behavior and appearance. Second, lights in the sky in ancient times meant fairies were abound, while lights in the sky now mean UFOs are abound. Third, and finally, both fairies and aliens “abduct” humans in order to study them, and those who are abducted seem to “lose time” (they had a quicker perception of time than what actually transpired).

Sources

The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits by Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Unexplained by Jerome Clark

The Unidentified by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark

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